Chapter 21 summary: While Jolinar is trying to rebuild an attacked planet and help the population, a Tok'ra arrives with request for aid to another planet.
[ Chapter 1: Goodbyes | Chapter 2: An Audience | Chapter 3: A Conspiracy | Chapter 4: Promotion | Chapter 5: Minor System Lord | Chapter 6: An Old Acquaintance | Chapter 7: Diversions | Chapter 8: Plans | Chapter 9: Happy Moments | Chapter 10: Culmination | Chapter 11: Complications | Chapter 12: Daily Life | Chapter 13: Exposed | Chapter 14: A New Host - and a New Master | Chapter 15: New Challenges | Chapter 16: A Necessary Sacrifice | Chapter 17: Information Gathering | Chapter 18: A Surprise Visit | Chapter 19: Bad News | Chapter 20: War and Power | Chapter 21: Emergencies | Chapter 22: Found Out | Chapter 23: In the Tunnels | Chapter 24: Undercover at Bastet's Court | Chapter 25: Discovered! | Chapter 26: Rosha | Chapter 27: Host | Chapter 28: Getting Along | Chapter 29: Safe | Chapter 30: Lantash | Chapter 31: Shared Missions | Chapter 32: Taking A Chance | Chapter 33: Danger and Betrayal | Chapter 34: Some Realizations | Chapter 35: Hiding | Chapter 36: Time for the Truth | Chapter 37: Home | Chapter 38: Together | Chapter 39: Martouf ]
*Two of the mines have collapsed - a gold mine and the richest of the naquadah mines. Sabotage. We will have to get them back up and running as quickly as possible.* Jolinar remarked, studying the report she had received.
*Is the population not more important?* Lisha pointed out.
*It is - in a perfect universe.* Jolinar sighed. *But if our richest naquadah mine does not yield anything this year, Zipacna will be angry and demand I punish the population. I will help the people here as much as possible - send them food and help to rebuild. I can always explain that my goal is to restore the work force as quickly as possible.*
*Of course.* Lisha looked around. *This place needs repair too.*
*Yes, Sehaw did a lot of damage while trying to steal anything even remotely of value from this place. Well, in this case he may have done us a favour. The place was ugly before, and we can now choose our own decorations and style.*
*It is too bad Sehaw got away.*
*Too bad indeed.* Jolinar sighed again.
Back home again on Terweh, Jolinar dispatched additional aid to Sestor - explaining it all away as her honest attempt to get the slaves in prime condition for work in the mine, as quickly as possible. Zipacna even commended her on her vigilance, which she found amusing.
Life had only just returned to normal, when one of her servants announced the arrival of a Lord, asking for an audience. She had presented herself as 'Lord Rihnak' - a name Jolinar recognized as Selmak's alias.
Jolinar ordered her servant to send in the guest - and then leave them alone. It had been a long time since she last spoke to her old friend, and she intended to enjoy every moment.
Before the servant left, Jolinar had told him to make sure a worthy dinner was prepared for them, and that they should serve some of her best wine, produced in the famous vineyards of Nirra.
"Hello, Selmak." Jolinar said, smiling a little sadly at the woman who had just entered. She did not recognize the host. "My condolences for Serinna."
"Jolinar, Lisha. Hello - and thank you. Serinna is deeply missed, my old friend." Selmak sighed, still mourning her former host. "This is Saroosh, my new host."
"Lisha and I both look forward to talking to her." Jolinar bowed her head lightly, in both greeting and respect.
She looked at the older woman. Saroosh seemed to be in her late 50's, maybe early 60's. She looked like a warm and happy person - someone Jolinar would get along well with. She hoped she would get the chance. The life of a Tok'ra was dangerous, and while Jolinar had already been undercover a long time, she might easily be undercover for just as long still. Someone becoming host as late in the life as Saroosh, would likely only survive another 150 years or so.
"Saroosh was an elder in a village on the planet Tanor, which I and a group of other Tok'ra were visiting. We hoped to trade, and were caught in an attack when Cabrakan decided to take the planet from Morrigan. It was a brutal fight, with many dead, and more who would have wished they were. To make a long story short - Serinna was mortally wounded, and Saroosh volunteered, saving my life."
"Then we owe Saroosh much gratitude and thanks. I do not now how the Tok'ra would manage without your wisdom and tempering words, Selmak. There are far too many hot-heads among us - myself included, I am sad to say."
Selmak chuckled. "You flatter me. You would do just fine - though the Council do need someone to be the compassionate and sensible one. The local Council has been controlled by the likes of Delek and Ren'al for far too long. I will return to my duties there after this mission."
"I believe we shall all be grateful for that." Jolinar smiled. "Tell me, what brings you here? Sadly, I dare not believe it is just to talk and catch up on old times."
"No, it is not. The population of Tanor is suffering. The attack left them unable to feed themselves in the coming winter, and the Council hopes you might be able to provide some emergency aid."
Jolinar nodded. "Perhaps. How big is the population?"
"Unfortunately, much smaller than it once was. Less than 7000 still lives, out of the more than 20000 who inhabited the world before the attack."
"I will be able to provide help for those. However, I need to at least pretend it is a trade - and one that is to my advantage - or Zipacna will become suspicious. It is too large an amount for him to overlook it. His treasurer pays an amazing amount of attention to details."
"Zipacna is greedy, you mean. He fears his minions will try to cheat him out of his tribute." Selmak sighed. "Tanor has little of value, except for naquadah, but the mines need extensive repair before they can be reopened." She was quiet for a moment. "Saroosh suggests her planet could trade exotic wood, if you are interested - and we can find someone to log it, as it is quite far from the chaapa'ai. They do have large forests of a type of tree which produces very beautiful wood."
"It is not a bad idea. I could claim I need new furniture in all my palaces - and that I want it made of this particular wood. Yes, that might work! I can even find some people to help with the logging."
"Then the problem is solved?"
"I believe it is."
"With the official matters handled, I have good news as well. As you know, Sikan - the Tok'ra who along with Lantash went missing after the accident with the chaapa'ai - was found about ten years ago."
"Yes, I remember. He had been thrown out of the chaapa'ai on a planet belonging to the Goa'uld Morrigan, and had been taken prisoner. He had managed to escape, but the planet he had been taken to had no chaapa'ai, so he lived with other escaped prisoners on a remote island for more than 60 years."
Selmak nodded. "He was very pleased when he was finally found."
"Wait..." Jolinar suddenly looked excited. "Why are you mentioning this now? Has Lantash perhaps been found as well?"
Selmak smiled. "Yes, he has. A month ago, he walked out of the chaapa'ai on Tollan, since he could not expect any of the Tok'ra bases to still be in the same location, after that many years."
"Where has he been?"
"On a planet called Silvana. They are pretty xenophobic, and so they had closed themselves of from the rest of the Galaxy centuries ago, when they freed themselves from the local Goa'uld. They are a sentient, avian race, deeply distrusting of outsiders."
"I hope Lantash let his host speak, or they would have thought him a Goa'uld."
"They did think him a Goa'uld, however the reason for his original capture and imprisonment was an unfortunate misunderstanding. In any case, they soon discovered he was the same species as the Goa'uld, and it was only their deep-rooted aversion of taking life, which kept them from killing him. They would not listen to his assurances he was not Goa'uld, though, and would not free him."
"How did he get out?"
"After about 25 years - in a reasonably comfortable prison, I might add, as they do not believe in mistreating anyone, regardless of who they are - there was a natural disaster. An earthquake left many wounded, and as fate would have it, a school had been hit hard and more than thirty of their young ones were mortally wounded. When Lantash heard, he told the Silvanans he would probably be able to save at least some of them with his healing device. They agreed to let him out and attempt it."
"Did he succeed?"
"Yes, Lantash is surprisingly talented with a healing device, enough so that he should consider assisting the healers in the tunnels - when he returns from his current mission. In any case, he succeeded in saving the lives of all the children, though he worked himself to exhaustion. The Silvanans were very grateful and decided to believe his story. He was released, but it was another almost 60 years before he managed to convince them to allow him to leave through their chaapa'ai."
"Poor Lantash! It cannot have been pleasant being stranded there for so long!"
"Well, better than were Sikan was stranded, but you are correct. However, the Silvanans are quite advanced, and Lantash and Nemura were allowed to study their technology and history while they were there. As a result, the Tok'ra have gotten improved detection technology for our scanners, and our stealth technology has been improved tremendously, resulting in tunnels that are even more difficult to detect. It masks almost all energy signatures - even the presence of refined naquadah!"
"That is certainly a worthy result! Lantash should be proud!"
"He was quite happy - until the Council 'suggested' he volunteer to be the Tok'ra ambassador to the Silvanans for the next Silvanan moon-cycle - which is 35 years! Apparently, they are not yet ready to accept other off-worlders to their planet, and the Tok'ra are very interested in improving the friendship with this people - no doubt in the hopes of more advanced technology."
"Well, we all have to accept some personal sacrifices for the cause..."
"Lantash did eventually agree, and he left for his post yesterday."
"I cannot say I have ever thought of him as a diplomat. He must have changed much." Jolinar looked surprised.
"Not at all, actually. Nemura has control much of the time, but the Silvanans actually enjoy Lantash's honesty."
"Clearly, they are more alien than we thought! Now, I have arranged for dinner...I assume I can convince you to stay? There will be various local delicacies, and all the wine you can drink - of my very best kind!"
"I will definitively stay!" Selmak said, her eyes twinkling.
Chapter 22: Found Out